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1949 Independence Yankees Team-Signed Souvenir Book with Mickey Mantle (Harry Craft Provenance!)
Starting Bid - $2,000, Sold For - $3,600
Presented is the single most outstanding example of one of the most significant items in existence relating to the dawn of Mickey Mantle's professional career! Any 1949 Independence Yankees yearbook example would be of enormous historical significance. The 1949 Independence Yankees are of such special note because this was Mickey Mantle's very first professional team. Mantle joined the Independence Yankees right out of high school and, of course, is featured in the team's souvenir yearbook. Very few examples of this yearbook have survived, and any example would be a rare and valuable prize. This particular example, however, originated years ago from the personal collection of Harry Craft, the manager of the Independence Yankees. And it is signed by all the players! Offered here is a 1949 Independence Yankees yearbook signed by all sixteen of the players on the club, including an eighteen-year-old shortstop by the name of Mickey Mantle. Mantle's first professional season was spent with the Independence Yankees of the K-O-M League (Kansas-Oklahoma-Missouri) in 1949, making this one of the earliest known Mantle signatures in the hobby. Adding to the significance of this piece is its extraordinarily significant provenance, originating from the personal collection of Independence manager Harry Craft. Nearly all of the players have prefaced their signature with salutatory remarks to Craft, such as "to a great skipper" or "to a great manager." Mantle's blue-ink inscription, which is printed directly next to his photo, reads "To a great skipper/Mickey Mantle." Both the inscription and signature are boldly printed and grade "10." The other player signatures represented in the yearbook, all of which appear next to their respective photos as well, are those of Keith Speck, Lou Skizas, John Cimino, Bob Newbill, Bob Mallon, Charlie Weber, Steve Kraley, Bob Weisler, Jack Whitaker, Ken Bennett, William Chambers, Al Long, Jim Bello, Nick Ananias, and Joe Crowder. All of the blue-ink signatures grade "9" or "10." Mantle batted .313 with 7 home runs for Independence in 1949, numbers which earned him a promotion to Joplin of the Western Association the following year. This is one of only a few Independence yearbooks we have ever seen. We have known of the team-signed Harry Craft example for decades (ever since Harry Craft sold it many years ago!) and have always considered it not just the best of the few 1949 Independence Yankees yearbooks in existence, but one of the most extraordinary early Mantle items of any kind in existence. Very few items are known dating from Mantle's inaugural season in professional baseball, let alone signed by Mantle to his first manager in professional baseball. This is a Hall of Fame caliber item! The yearbook (6 x 9 inches) displays light wear, including a few minor cover creases, and is in Excellent condition overall. LOA from James Spence/JSA. SOLD FOR $3,600
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